How many truly joyful, vibrant, victorious Christians do you know? Why are so few Christians filled with joy? Many go around looking like the photo on their driver’s license. No Christian should look like that! What is the reason for this lack of joy? The answer is found in the old song, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
In Acts 5, Peter and the other apostles had been teaching and preaching Jesus Christ, and it’s caused quite a stir. In fact, revival broke out and the authorities were trying to stop it. They commanded Peter and the brethren not to preach anymore.
“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men…. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Acts 5:29
The reason so many Christians today are not filled with joy is because they are unbelieving and disobedient. Now, we’re not saved because we obey, but we obey because we’re saved. Martin Luther said, “We’re not saved by faith and works. But we are saved by a faith that works.” Jesus said, “Why call ye me ‘Lord, Lord’ if you do not the things that I say?”
If you don’t obey, it’s a sign you’re really not trusting. Faith without works is dead. The way to Heaven is not the ladder of logic or the rocket of reason, but the railroad of redemption, the old “T & O,” trust and obey.
Obedience is the missing ingredient in so many Christians’ lives.
Why We Should Obey
Peter says, “We ought to obey.” Why? Because of Who God is — the Sovereign God. He has every right to command His children. He is the God of creation. Jeremiah 11:3 says, “Cursed be the man that obeyeth not.” Because He is sovereign, there can be no refusal and no rebuttal. The only alternative to obedience is disobedience. And disobedience will bring His judgment.
He is also the Saving God. He loved us enough to give His Son to die for us. The word “ought” comes from the word “owe.” Why do we obey Him? We owe it to Him. We’re not our own. We’re bought with a price.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) God doesn’t want us to serve Him because we have to, but because we love Him.
How We Should Obey
With intelligent obedience. You can’t obey unless you know what it is God wants you to do. The apostles said, “We cannot help but speak what we have seen and what we have heard” (Acts 4:20). They weren’t just running around doing things for God without knowing what God wanted done. Many folks are doing things God doesn’t want done! You must know the will of God.
With intentional obedience. You must intend to obey, to seek to know the will of God. There should be a quiet time in your life every day where you report for orders saying, “Lord, what would you have me to do? Inhabit my humanity, think through my mind, smile through my countenance, work through my hands, love through my heart, speak through my lips. I report for duty.”
Do you have a quiet time? Dear friend, ignorance of God’s will is no excuse. God will hold you accountable for what you would have heard, had you listened.
With immediate obedience. When God tells you to do something, don’t look around to see if the circumstances are favorable. Don’t parade it past the judgment bar of your mind to see whether it’s reasonable. Do it immediately. Procrastination is a form of disobedience. You may not know why God wants you to do it. You just simply do it.
With inflexible obedience, regardless of the circumstances or consequences, even in physical danger. The disciples said, “We are going to obey God rather than men.”
With impassioned obedience. They obeyed the Lord with burning, passionate, emotional zeal. The cause of Jesus Christ has been hurt more by Sunday morning benchwarmers than all the infidels put together.
The Rewards of Obedience
Supernatural power in your life, God is not going to lavish spiritual power upon rebels. when you bring your life into conformity to the will of God, when you say, “Oh, Lord, my desire, my ambition, the driving motive of my heart and my life is to obey you,” then God says, “All right, now I’m going to release spiritual power through you.”
Supernatural joy in your heart. Look in verse 41 of Acts 5. “And they [the apostles] departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” You say, “Pastor Rogers, I just don’t have any joy in my Christianity. It’s just dull. It’s just boring. I don’t have any victory. Jesus Christ is not real to me.”
If Jesus Christ is not real to you, it’s because you’re not obeying Him. Don’t say you love Jesus if you don’t obey Him. That’s empty talk.
“He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me. And he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21
“Manifest” means, “I’ll make myself known to you. I’ll be real to you.” The reason why Jesus Christ is not real to many people is they’re not obeying Him and He’s not manifesting Himself to them. Can you say, “He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own. And they joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known.” Can you say, “It’s real. It’s real. It’s real.” Not if you’re not obeying.
The best advice ever given to anyone was what Mary gave to the servants at the wedding in Cana of Galilee when she said to them, “Whatever He sayeth unto you, do it.”
Dear friend, when we begin to obey God, we’re going to find restored to us the joy of our salvation.Is there an area of disobedience in your life? Is God telling you to make restitution? Obey Him. Is God telling you to make confession? Obey Him. Is God telling you to witness? Obey Him. Is God telling you to tithe? Obey Him. He is saving, sovereign God.
I believe we are living in the lengthening shadows of the last day. I believe Jesus Christ is coming soon, and one of the earmarks is persecution of the saints. We see it on TV, newscasts, and editorial pages. Ridicule any other group and you’ll be in trouble, but the wrath of our culture is reserved for the Christian. The Bible-believing Christian is the whipping boy.
People are continually discussing what’s happening in this country, the Middle East, and every corner of the globe. What many may not realize is that we are already at war—an invisible, unseen war between light and darkness, good and evil. And Satan is our adversary.
Someone reading this article—it may be you—has failed the Lord, and you think perhaps God is finished with you.
Suppose you’re running a 100-yard dash. You’re in the starting blocks. The gun fires and you start out running. You’re 10 yards ahead of everybody else. You’re three feet from the goal! But you quit.
Even the strongest Christian can battle depression—but God has made specific provision for us.