|Water War by Jan Piller - used with permission|
So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ. Obey God because you are His children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God--who chose you to be His children--is holy. For He Himself has said, ‘You must be holy because I am holy. 1 Peter 1: 13-16
When the Lord puts His finger on something in our lives it seems as if the pressure just won’t let up until we make the choice to do His will. We hear the voice of our conscience nagging at us which we often try to push to the back of our minds. Finally the nagging just becomes so insistent we decide to do something about it.
Obedience--it’s one of the toughest things in the Christian life because usually the very thing the Lord wants us to do, or not do, is something we quite like doing. I’m not talking about robbing banks. Most of us don’t have to deal with an overwhelming temptation to rob a bank or commit some other sort of dastardly deed of that nature. No, usually it’s something like changing an attitude, behaviour or habit with which our conscience is troubled.
Some things are obvious. There are basic issues most everyone in the world agrees are wrong. We all know robbing a bank is wrong just as we know pilfering from the office petty cash is too. That’s not the sort of thing I’m referring to here though. I’m speaking of the kinds of things that have been longstanding issues in our lives like controlling our anger or gossiping or being lazy or telling lies or misconduct in relationships or any of the myriad of things that are part of the human condition.
And the human condition is the whole point. We don’t like to feel as if we’re limited to what we can and cannot do and if we take a hard look at the root causes of some of these habits we’ll find a whole lot of pride and rebellion. Actually pride and rebellion really aren’t all that different from each other and pretty much any ‘sin’ you can think of is rooted in pride. Pride is that streak in us that says ‘all that matters is ME or MY opinion or what I want.’
Do you ever wonder why God even cares whether or not you stop doing something that isn’t harming another living soul though? Well, first of all, it could be argued that everything we do has consequences for both ourselves and others, however, that’s a discussion for another day. At the moment, I’m thinking of the way God is actually trying to protect us from future harm when He puts the pressure on something today. For example, if we hold a bitter and unforgiving attitude toward someone it’s easy to see how that attitude grows into terrible proportions over the years until that ‘root of bitterness’ becomes a full blown tree and takes over our lives. It not only causes stress and unhappiness but over a long period can affect our health.
Logical isn’t it? So why do we have such trouble simply being obedient. Think of a young child or even a teenager. When events in their lives come to a head, as a parent you want to say to them head, ‘If you had just done what you were told we could have avoided this mess.” We know it with our children so why do we have so much trouble as adults when God is speaking to us about the same old issue we’ve been fighting Him on for years?
Because we actually like these inappropriate behaviours.
Because we want our own way.
Does that sound like a rebellious attitude to you? Well, welcome to my world . . . . and I would venture to say the world of most Christians who are making a serious attempt to live their lives as God would have them do and struggling in the process.
I’ve been looking at a passage of scripture in 1 Peter, ‘So think clearly and exercise self-control.” That’s interesting. We’re supposed to think clearly…use our reasoning or mental capability to engage logical thought. That being the case, look at the very thing you’re struggling with today and take it to its logical conclusion if you choose NOT to do the thing God is telling you. What are the ramifications if you continue? What is the potential fall-out? Who, besides yourself, could be hurt?
If you ask yourself those questions you begin to see the personal advantages in obedience. That's the Me-ward aspect of obedience.
This passage of scripture also says, “You must be holy because I am holy.” That’s an entirely different angle. This is obedience that reflects the glory and holiness of God in our lives. This is God-ward obedience. It is the kind that squashes the inner attitude of rebellion; one that says, ‘He must increase and I must decrease’; one that cherishes the holiness of God as more valuable than my present gratification.
Then, just to make obedience really appealing, God promises special blessings to those who walk in His will. You would think that alone would be enough to keep us on the straight and narrow.
One thing I absolutely know to be true. God has promised when we are tempted to sin He will provide a way out. This promise He keeps and does so on a regular basis. He knows how weak we are but if we’re paying attention to that finger He’s been using to put the pressure on our conscience He will point to a path that leads us out of temptation.
Trust Him for it …….and keep your eyes open so you can see the way He will provide.
But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. 1 Corinthians 10: 13-14