Here’s the last part!
Consider Yourself Warned
One thing that my wife has always cautioned me on is using “warnings.” In great wisdom, she helped me to understand that warning people that the outcome of their behaviors will be bad does not inspire them to love God any more. I agree with her completely. But, there are times when warnings are appropriate. For instance, imagine a child that’s about to wander into the street. A parent screaming a warning at the kid isn’t going to inspire a greater parental love in the child. But it will save their life. I once heard John Piper give a Biblical example similar to the following that will be helpful too:
Do you remember the story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah? Jacob had worked for a long time to earn the right to marry Rachel. It was true love. However, Rachel’s older sister Leah was still unwed. In those days, much shame would’ve been brought upon the family to have the younger marry before the elder. On the wedding night, Rachel and Leah’s father pulled a switcheroo and sent Leah into bedroom to sleep with Jacob. I don’t know what situation would have caused Jacob to not know the difference, but he didn’t notice. Obviously this caused some modern reality TV sized drama. But how much pain could’ve been avoided with a simple warning? Imagine a person calling out annoyingly in the night: “HEY JACOB, THAT’S NOT RACHEL YOU’RE ABOUT TO HAVE SEX WITH!” It probably would not have inspired Jacob to love Rachel any more but it would’ve kept him from getting into bed with the wrong woman. It was information that he needed to know. Much drama and pain could have been avoided. Warnings can help people avoid terrible outcomes and provide immensely important information. The Bible regularly and appropriately uses warnings to this end and I think it’s safe to appropriately reiterate some of these.
Here’s a doozy from John the Baptist:
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son of God will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36
Again we see the importance of obedience. I find it interesting that for John the Baptist, the opposite of believing in the Son (Jesus) seems to be disobedience. If this is true, it means that actual belief in Christ and obedience are inextricably linked. Obedience is a big deal. It seems to be a proof that a person actually knows Jesus.
Even Moses understood that disobedience signaled a lack of knowledge and love for God:
Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today… It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the makes to perish before you, you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God. Dt 8:11, 19-20 (emphasis mine)
Instead of forgetting about the Lord and straying from serving Him alone, we need to know therefore that Lord your God, He is God,the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments (Dt 7:9). Again, we can see that obeying God is an essential aspect of loving God. Lip service doesn’t cut it here. True love for God produces a lifestyle of obedience to Him. If it doesn’t, you might not have true love for and faith in God and that’s a terrifying place to be. See what I mean as Moses continues what he’s saying in Dt 7:9 in v10:
Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; but He repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. Dt 7:9-10
Taking this at face value, it seems clear that for Moses, hating God is the opposite of obeying and loving Him. Can you see how big of a deal obedience is now? As far as we know, Moses is the only person who physically saw God and did not instantly cease to exist. He knows what’s up. Unless I’m missing something, love for God and obedience to God go together. Obedience proves that love is true.
“I’ll prove my love”
In order to rescue Odette from Rothbart’s evil spell, Prince Derek must make a vow of everlasting love and prove it to the world. This isn’t as easy as it would seem. Derek only discovers this after spending months searching for Odette and learning of the spell. He truly loves her, but that’s not enough to break the spell. He must prove it to the world. So at a big party he declares his love to the world which should break the spell. Only it doesn’t. Like the patriarch Jacob, Derek is the victim of the classic switcheroo. He had the wrong woman. Unlike Jacob, Derek completely rejects the wrong woman and runs to save his true love. He’s able to chase her down but it’s nearly too late. He has to fight and defeat the evil Rothbart who transformed into some kind of giant bat thing. He slays the bat thing and the spell breaks. Derek and Odette can finally be together. Derek had finally proved his love. Simply proclaiming it without appropriate action was not enough.
While I wholeheartedly approve of enthusiastic worship, rocking out to the latest Hillsong jams on Sunday morning doesn’t prove much. I am great at proclaiming how God is like a big wave, or fire, or is beautiful beyond compare. That’s easy. Answering the question, “what else is there?” is harder. Is God’s beauty all that matters to me? How do I prove my love? Do I prove my love? Do you? I am truly amazed that God has stacked the deck in our favor. Not only has He revealed Himself to us in His Word, but He as also given us the Holy Spirit to help us out. He wants us to succeed in loving Him. He wants us to obey because that is what’s best for us. God’s not holding out on us. He’s made it so that every single Christian can obey Him. It’s hard to obey. But not too hard. Do you love God?