WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
JANUARY 7, 2021
TOPIC: YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR OBEDIENCE
BY T. O. BANSO
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18 New King James Version).
I think the commonest reason the children of God often find it difficult to obey God is the fear of the consequences of their obedience. We are scared about what would happen if we obey what God has written in the Bible and what He is telling us to do by the Holy Spirit. And our expectations in this regard are negative.
Although the Bible assures us of the integrity of the Word of God, many still doubt whether God will do what He says He would do if we do what He says we should do. But Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (New King James Version).
The Bible tells us that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). You may have doubts about His word here on earth but the Bible says, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89 New King James Version). Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever” (New King James Version).
Despite the assurances in the Bible on the integrity of the Word of God, many of us still act in unbelief and fail to obey the Word of God, especially some of His promises, which we consider too good to be true. We think we can obey the Word of God and it won’t work or we can obey it and there will be negative consequences.
The matter even becomes more complicated when it comes to what the Holy Spirit tells us. This is not like what is written black and white in the Bible. Whether it is what the Holy Spirit tells you directly or what the Holy Spirit says through someone else that affects you, we also exercise fear about acting on such words: Suppose it turns out the other way! Suppose it fails!
I quite agree that caution needs to be taken as regards what we think or other people say the Holy Spirit is saying. Sometimes, people miss it. They think it is the Holy Spirit, but it’s not and they have to face the consequences. For those who sincerely miss it, the need to learn more about how to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit. Nobody knows it all. God can still work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). But those who use the Holy Spirit to deceive, manipulate, and mislead others need to repent and stop it. Believers must test all things; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
The tendency is there for those who have fallen victims of acting upon the words wrongly attributed to the Holy Spirit, not to want to obey anything that anyone says the Holy Spirit is saying either as a confirmatory prophecy or a word for the congregation. While we must exercise caution, we must not throw the baby away with the bathwater. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (New King James Version).
However, my focus is really on the genuine Word of God either written in the Bible or revealed by the Holy Spirit. We must learn to act in faith on the Word of God and not be too concerned about the consequences of our obedience. You are responsible for obeying God; God is responsible for the consequences of your obedience. You are not responsible for the consequences of your obedience. Understanding this will free you from unnecessary pressure.
If you are too bothered about what would happen or would not happen if you obey God, you won’t act on His Word. As it is often said, too much analysis leads to paralysis. You’re saying suppose what God says doesn’t happen! But suppose it happens. Many people have been hindered from obeying because of the fear of the consequences of their obedience.
James 1:7-8 says concerning prayers that a doubter should not think he will receive anything from the Lord because he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. If God is leading you to pray for someone, pray. Don’t be too concerned about the consequences. It is God who answers prayers, not you.
In Genesis 22, notwithstanding how Abraham might have felt initially about God’s command to go to the land of Moriah and sacrifice his only son, Isaac, as a burnt sacrifice to Him on one of the mountains He would tell him, the Bible says Abraham rose early in the morning to start his journey to obey God (verses 2-3). What should be of utmost importance to us is confirming that the Word we’re acting is from God, not the consequences of our obedience.
If you read this story well, you will see that although Abraham was ready to sacrifice Isaac, he still had faith that the boy would return with Him home. He must have been thinking about the promise of God to Him prior to this time. In Genesis 17:19, God had said about Isaac, “I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him” (New King James Version). How would this be possible if he sacrificed Isaac and he remained dead? That would be a contradiction.
The journey took Abraham no fewer than three days (verse 4). That means he had the opportunity of changing his mind. But he didn’t. In verse 5, he told the young men with him, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (New King James Version). How would he come back with the boy he wanted to go and kill? In verse 7, Isaac asked his father for the lamb for the burnt offering as they had only the fire and the wood. Abraham answered that God would provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering (verse 8).
Hebrews 11:17-19 tells us what motivated Abraham’s action: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (New King James Version).
Verse 19 in the New Living Translation says, “Abraham assumed that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” Abraham knew that God had a plan for Isaac and if God asked him to go and sacrifice him, He had the power to raise the dead back to life. He didn’t worry about the consequences of his obedience. Eventually, God stopped him from sacrificing Isaac. He saw a ram which he sacrificed instead.
Don’t disobey God because you’re too concerned about the consequences of your obedience, which is not your responsibility, but God’s. God’s servant, Charles Stanley, says, “God is responsible for the consequences of our obedience. We are responsible for the consequences of our disobedience.” Did you get that?
Will God still be God in your life if you obeyed Him and you experienced negative consequences or you received something different from what you believed Him for? Will you say God has failed you? If you’re too concerned about the consequences of your obedience, you would feel like that.
But hear the three Hebrews that Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw into the burning fiery furnace: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18 New King James Version).
These Hebrews had a genuine relationship with God, not a transactional relationship. When they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace, God delivered them. But it wouldn’t have bothered them if He didn’t. They were not worried about the consequences of their obedience not to worship an idol.
Jonah, a disobedient prophet, was too concerned about the consequences of his obedience that he refused to go to Nineveh to deliver God’s message of impending judgment. Eventually, he delivered the message and God changed His mind not to destroy the Ninevites after they had repented. Unfortunately, Jonah reacted angrily.
Hear what he said: “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” (Jonah 4:2-3 New King James Version).
Jonah preferred the destruction of the people of Nineveh to their repentance! He was an Israelite, the son of Amittai, from Gath Hepher, a town in Zebulun in the northern kingdom of Israel. The Ninevites were Assyrians. Nineveh was the capital city of the Assyrian Empire. Therefore, he couldn’t bother if they perished. But God created the Israelites and the Assyrians. Since the people repented, He forgave them. Jonah was displeased and angry.
As a servant of God, will you allow God to increase while you decrease? Can God ask you to leave the spotlight, where He is using you, and give you another assignment that may keep you in obscurity for a season? Will you obey Him and not bother about the consequences of your obedience?
Phillip was doing very successful missionary work in Samaria. Multitudes listened to him. There were signs and wonders and great joy in the city. Many turned to the Lord including Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:4-25). After the departure of Peter and John whom the apostles sent from Jerusalem, the next thing we read is that an angel of the Lord said to him to go south, down the desert road that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza (verse 26).
How could someone agree to leave the city where God was doing great work and go to the desert, not knowing his actual mission there? Phillip obeyed. He wasn’t responsible for the consequences of his obedience. The consequence of his obedience was the salvation of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Some have said that this highly placed treasurer of Ethiopia possibly took the gospel to Africa.
Suppose God asked you to organize a crusade and despite all your efforts, the attendance was low. Would you consider it a waste of resources? You should be more concerned about your obedience. A crusade you obeyed God to hold which appeared to be a failure may actually be a huge success in the sight of God.
In Acts 5, the apostles obeyed God and preached the gospel but the consequence of their obedience was flogging after they had been arrested, imprisoned, and tried by the Jewish Council (verse 17-40). But they departed, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus Christ.
Also, the obedience of Paul and Silas to preach the gospel landed them in prison after they had been beaten with rods. They didn’t regret their obedience but were praying and singing hymns to God in the prison. They eventually regained their freedom with honour (Acts 16:16-39).
The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6 that he planted and Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. If you obeyed God and God is yet to bring the increase, will you regret your obedience? You are responsible for faithfully and diligently preaching the gospel, not responsible for the consequences of your preaching. God rewards faithfulness.
The prophet Jeremiah obeyed God and faithfully prophesied to the people of Judah for forty years but he was not responsible for their reaction. Because of his obedience to God, he was in derision daily; everyone mocked him (Jeremiah 20:7). He was rejected by his neighbours, family, and friends (Jeremiah 11:19-21; 12:6; 20:10). He was thrown into prison and a dungeon or cistern (Jeremiah 37; 38).
The people didn’t believe him or repent of their sins until Jerusalem was destroyed and some of the poor people left in the city, the defectors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen were deported to Babylon. After the murder of the governor appointed by the Babylonians, the people forced Jeremiah to go with them to Egypt despite warning them against it (Jeremiah 43). By the world’s standards today, Jeremiah would be described as a failure. But he was a success by God’s standards. He obeyed God.
Ezekiel was responsible for delivering God’s message to the Jews in captivity in Babylonia. In fact, when God called him as a prophet, He told him, among other things, to speak His words to the people, whether they heard or refused, for they were rebellious (Ezekiel 2:7).
Similarly, in Ezekiel 3:7, God told Ezekiel, “But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted” (New King James Version). If you were Ezekiel would you still obey and prophesy to a people you knew would not listen to you?
God is responsible for the consequences of your obedience. Luke 1:6 says, “Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations” (New Living Translation). That’s wonderful. I love that. But I don’t like the next verse! “They had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now they were both very old” (verse New Living Translation). This couple obeyed God but they were not responsible for their negative condition. Did that stop Zechariah’s obedience in serving God? No. One day while serving the Lord, He changed his story forever. Glory be to God!
My prayer, this season, is that as you enthusiastically obey the Lord without being bothered about the consequences of your obedience, God will visit you and change your story positively forever. His Word will produce fruits in your life.
Let the Word of God become work that you do and you will ultimately be blessed. “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25 New King James Version). Be obedient; disobedience will cost you so much.
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: Holy Spirit, help me to concentrate on obeying God and not worry about the consequences of my obedience. Father, I will look into Your Word and continue in it; I shall not be a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work. Therefore, I shall be blessed in what I do.
(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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