LOVE, FAITH, AND OBEDIENCE
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I am afraid that the way love is preached in Christian circles is working against our willingness to keep God’s commandments. In addition, there may be some confusion concerning faith. True love and true faith come from God alone. Our part is to be obedient—and we need help with that also.
Table of Contents
LOVE, FAITH, AND OBEDIENCE
But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (I Samuel 15:22)
I have noticed a major error in Christian thinking and teaching. It is that love often takes the place of obedience to God; of keeping the commandments of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles.
Have you ever heard anyone say, “There is no law but the law of love”? If there ever was a more destructive idea than the one that holds there are no commandments we are to keep while entering the new covenant, I am not certain what it would be.
The truth is, the New Testament contains hundreds of commandments. These commandments themselves, however, are not the new covenant. The new covenant is the supernatural work of God writing His eternal moral law in our mind and heart. However, we never arrive at the new covenant until we make every effort, including much prayer for God’s help, to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
Satan has done everything in his power, has used every cunning device, to persuade Christian believers that love or grace or belief or faith takes the place of obeying Christ’s commandments.
What is the Great Commission?
And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
Teaching everything I have commanded you. Are there commandments in the New Testament? Indeed there are, commandments given by the Lord Jesus and His Apostles.
Do love or faith or grace act as an alternative to obedience to God’s commandments? Indeed they do not!
Do love or faith or grace supersede God’s commandments? Indeed they do not!
Does coming to maturity as a saint mean we no longer have to keep God’s commandments? Indeed it does not!
But doesn’t our love for Christ cause us to keep His commandments such that we do not have to worry what the Bible says? Indeed it does not. Human love in some instances will cause us to speak with the voice of Satan, as the Apostle Peter did when he advised Christ not to go to Jerusalem.
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:31-33)
True Divine love always will cause us to obey God diligently.
Why does every device Satan whispers to the believers, whether it is “love,” or “faith alone,” or the “rapture,” or “God sees us through Christ,” or any of the other lies that come from his blasphemous heart, seek to persuade us that we do not have to obey Christ? It is because Satan knows we never will be able to participate in the Divine program of redemption apart from being obedient to God.
But doesn’t love fulfill the Law of Moses? Yes, it does. But it is mature Divine love that fulfills the Law of Moses, not the silly, fragile, inconsistent, rebellious state that passes for love in today’s churches.
True, eternal, Divine love is a fruit of the Spirit of God, not of the adamic nature of fallen man. Love is formed in us as Christ is formed in us; because Christ is God’s love in human form.
Recently one preacher went so far as to say that since we have a love relationship with the Lord Jesus, He would not think of commanding us to do anything. The concept seems to be that if a bridegroom really loves his bride he is not going to relate to her by giving her commandments. The problem with this analogy is that Jesus Christ is not a human bridegroom. He is the Lord Almighty and He is to be obeyed by us, even though He loves us and we love Him.
Another argument sometimes employed is that the Apostle Paul wrote that love is more important than the gifts and ministries the Holy Spirit gives to the members of the Body of Christ. However, if Paul meant that we should choose love over the gifts and ministries of the Spirit he would be negating what he wrote in the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians.
We do not start off with love, we start off with the ministries and gifts of the Spirit. Then, as Christ is formed in us, we begin to reveal in our personality the true Divine love.
Saying we need love rather than the gifts of the Spirit is like saying we need a university degree rather than kindergarten.
Faith, hope, and love are three pillars in the Kingdom of God. Of these love is the greatest. But even greater than love is obedience. If we are not obedient to God, then we do not have genuine love for God.
The fact that Christ said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” does not seem to phase the preachers of “love.”
It helps us, in this context, to remember that there are two kinds of love. There is human love, and then there is Divine love. There is no overlapping of these two. They are different in Substance and nature. The first proceeds from the human being and often is corrupt. The second proceeds from God in Heaven. The love of God is perfect and eternal.
Human love is faulty. It often is self-seeking. It can turn to hate in a moment, as we see in the case of Amnon.
In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David. (II Samuel 13:1)
Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!” (II Samuel 13:15)
When we tell church people they must have love they think of an emotion. They always will agree with this because it sounds so scriptural and godly. Also, the Lord Jesus spoke much about love, as did the Apostle John.
But usually the believers are thinking of an emotion. They probably would be happy if they felt a loving emotion toward everyone in the church and on the job—even toward all the members of their family. But in many instances we do not feel love toward everyone in the church, on the job, or even toward all the members of our family.
We can become stressed to the point that we are nearly in a rage. So when we are exhorted to have love we may agree to this but not find it possible to accomplish.
Has this ever been true of you?
Human love is very frail. The love of a mother for her son or daughter or a father for his son or daughter may be the strongest form of adamic love. This kind of love may persist when the son or daughter has been convicted of murder.
But even this is not God’s love, only human love.
So we may find ourselves unable to love everyone. What then shall we do? We are to act as though we love that person. We are to show kindness. We esteem others better than ourselves. We are generous. We forgive. We bear patiently with the other person’s weaknesses. This especially is important in a marriage. We can demonstrate love without necessarily feeling the emotion of love. How many marriages have failed because one of the partners says “I don’t love you any longer.” The truth is, they never loved the other person. The other person at one time gave them a good feeling, but this good feeling has not lasted.
If we could just obey Christ and be holy and righteous by choosing to love Him and God, we would have no need for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be redeemed. We could redeem ourselves from every wicked work just by “loving” Christ.
This is a delusion of Satan. It does not work out in practice. The churches talk about love, but they are filled with slander, pride, seeking preeminence, hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness, lust, and every other evil work. Yet they are told they are to love one another, and to this they agree. But it is not possible for the adamic nature to overcome sin by manufacturing some love or trying to be loving.
We should act in as loving as manner as we can before we come to maturity in Christ. But we must always remember that in order to overcome the traits of our personality that are not of the image of God, we must have the power of Christ operating in us.
We are not made a new creation of righteous, holy, obedient behavior by our resolve to be loving, only by the power of God So we do what we can by obeying the commandments found in the New Testament, seeking God’s help every day.
When we find in our personality a trait contrary to the law of love, we submit this trait to Christ and ask Him to give us His loving Nature. When we are filled with the loving Nature of the Lord Jesus Christ we obey His commandments from that Nature. This is the way the Christian redemption operates.
We cannot produce love or faith by our own efforts. We can try to feel love but may fail miserably. What we can do, however, is to determine to act in a loving way. This will be according to the type of personality we have.
Some people are effusive. Some are reserved. Some are very practical. Some are dreamers. This is the way we are until we arrive at the stature of the fullness of Christ and all things have been made new in us.
So we have to accept a person as he or she is. If we are an effusive person, and this is the way we demonstrate love, then so be it. But we cannot reasonably expect a person who tends to be reserved or shy to show that same effusiveness. If he or she did it would be contrived, and we would sense that.
We just have to be ourselves and obey the commandments. We are commanded to be gentle, to be kind, to show love. We are commanded to do this. We can act like this in our own way.
When we criticize someone because he or she is not demonstrating love in the way we think love should be demonstrated, then isn’t it a fact that we ourselves are not being loving?
So it is written: “In the same way we judge others we shall be judged.”
The best way we can show love is by being kind, friendly, forgiving, gentle. But to criticize people because they do not show love in the manner we approve is to try to create people in our image. God has not called us to try to create people in the image we think is appropriate. I believe you will agree with that.
But there is a more sinister aspect of the preaching of love, which is really pervasive in the Christian churches. And that is, it tends to curry favor with people. And it certainly shies away from the sternness of the Word. It is a kind of “I love you so much you shall not surely die.”
I believe this emphasis on love (which is human love and not God’s love) to be satanic in its origin. It is not composed of the steel that the disciple must have if he is to overcome the world, his own lusts, his personal ambition, and Satan and the demons.
To overcome the forces of darkness requires iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
The current teaching of love does not foster the kind of hardness that is necessary if we are to win the good fight of faith. It does not have the necessary components, because this is a hard, difficult struggle.
To be victorious requires much more strength and courage that is forthcoming in the current, undemanding teaching of love, grace, rapture; God sees us through Christ; God is love; He loves us so much He will not let us come to any harm.
The truth is, those whom God has chosen to be with Him, to rule with Him, must pass through the dark night of the soul as God expresses His anger toward that which is not of Him in their personality.
They learn about God when the great Fire of Israel comes down upon their life, when they are under that darkest of clouds. They do not understand this is God’s love. It isn’t the sweet saccharine, sentiment that passes today for Christian love. It is filled with fire and Divine Light and Life, not human sentiment and pity.
God’s love is eternal. It is given to those who are sternly obedient to God, not to the worldly, so-called Christians who have never, never, denied themselves, taken up their cross, their personal execution, and followed the Master. They have never crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. They know nothing of such discipline, forbearance, prolonged denial of intense desires.
While they prattle about love they have little understanding of the Divine love that commanded Abraham to give His Son as an offering; that permitted the Hebrew young men to be hurled into the superheated oven; that stood by while Daniel was thrown among the lions. They do not perceive the crucifixion of Jesus Christ or His sufferings, or the tribulations of the Apostle Paul—the final afflictions in his eyes lest he lean on his own strength.
No, I must conclude that the current teaching of love in the Christian churches is not of God. It is from Satan. Its purpose is to keep us from preparing ourselves to stand in the Presence of the Holy One of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ. Its purpose is to keep us. immature, silly, fatuous, talking about love while we criticize one another—criticizing especially those who have forsaken all that they might press forward in Christ.
Divine love is of an altogether different quality from human love. Paul tells us how to grow in Divine love:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
Can you see from the above passage that true Divine love must be formed in us. It actually is Christ’s love. This is the love spoken of in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. Human love will fail under enough pressure. The love of Christ never shall fail!
As I mentioned before, love is being preached today as an alternative to moral transformation; as an alternative to doing God’s will; as an alternative to keeping the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles.
As such this human love is a deadly enemy of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is the love of humanism, not the love of God.
Like love, faith is one of the great pillars of the Kingdom of God. There probably is no other word used as much by Christians as is true of “faith.”
Sometimes “faith” is used to mean a theological position or a denomination. There is the Catholic “faith” and the Protestant “faith.” Every denomination has a “Statement of Faith.”
It has become fashionable, at least in Pentecostal circles, to speak of faith as a way to produce miracles of one kind or another. If we had “faith” we would be healed—this sort of thing. The idea of speaking something into existence by the “word of faith” is sometimes advanced. We are urged to “speak the creative word.”
Then too there is the use of “faith” as a kind of ticket to Heaven. Make a profession of “faith” according to our doctrine and you are guaranteed escape from Hell and eternal residence in Heaven. Actually this is more of a head-belief or mental assent, in some instances, than it is true faith.
We have the “faith alone” teaching. This means if we believe that Christ died for our sins and has risen to become our Lord, no moral change on our part is necessary. We are assured of God’s blessing even though we continue to do the works of Satan. This is a kind of spiritual schizophrenia, isn’t it. We profess to be righteous, but it is evident to the onlooker that there has been no change in our behavior. This indeed is a ruinous doctrine.
What is true of love is true also of faith. Human faith is faulty, fragile, often self-seeking. We can say “I believe I believe I believe” until we are hoarse. But there may be no actual Divine faith in it.
Like true love, true faith comes from God. Bible faith is not an enlarged version of human faith. Divine faith is of a different substance It comes from God. In fact, God gives faith to everyone of us according to our place in His Kingdom.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)
As in the case of love, we can act as though we have faith. For example, if we are sick we can ask the elders to pray for us and anoint us with oil. Our adamic belief will take us that far. We may not have faith to be healed, but we have done what the Bible has commanded.
In numerous instances God has honored this type of obedience. We are healed, even though we did not have faith for the healing.
However, when God gives the faith for a miracle, it is as though a Divine Substance were given to us. We know we have the answer.
Sometimes we are impressed to take an action that seems illogical. The Council of our church did this when we decided to borrow four hundred thousand dollars to build a larger sanctuary. Our monthly statements did not suggest this was a prudent move. Yet all of us at the Council meeting felt we should do this.
So we did. Within five or six years the loan was paid off, and we did no begging for money. It was God all the way.
We are not to be presumptuous. When we do not have God-given faith for a miracle we cannot force God to respond. We cannot break our glasses and force God to heal our eyes. We have to pray until we know the mind of the Lord. Then we can act and God will honor our obedience.
The righteous live by faith. This means the truly righteous person lives in the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He does not trust his own wisdom, his strength, his talents, or his experience to make the decisions of each day. He continually is looking to Christ for the ability to make the correct decision in each instance. He walks humbly with God.
This is the small gate and the narrow way that lead to eternal life. We do not learn to live in this manner in a moment, it takes years of practice for most of us. But the individual who looks to Christ continually is as a light that burns with increasing brightness until the full light of day. This is the “everlasting way,” the way of salvation, of which the Scripture speaks.
And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalms 139:24—NASB)
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalms 23:3)
But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (I Samuel 15:22)
There are three great pillars of the Kingdom of God—faith, hope, and love. In my mind, however, greater than any of these is the virtue of “obedience.”
Of what use is faith if it is not obedient to God?
Of what use is hope if it is not directed toward God’s will?
Of what use is love if it does not obey God. Should we say to God, “I love you so much I no longer have to do Your will”? I think this outrageous concept is presented today.
To my way of thinking, to obey the Father is more important than any other aspect of life. We have been predestined to be changed into the image of Jesus Christ. The image of Christ is the image of God. It is a living image. It thinks as God is thinking. It speaks as God is speaking it acts as God is acting. Anything other than this comes short of the original Divine fiat—that man be in the image of God.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. God’s will is the only legitimate will in the universe.
We have been forgiven through the blood of the cross. We have been filled with God’s Spirit. Now it is time to learn to do the will of the Father. This is how we enter the Kingdom of God.
I was told when I first became a Christian that no human being can do God’s will perfectly. This statement came from Satan then and it still is coming from Satan. It is an image, a delusion, and the Christian churches have accepted it as being factual.
Let us put this lie to rest right now. If a man has a son or daughter, is he going to give his child impossible commandments? Yes, or no? Is he going to tell him or her to do something which the child is unable to perform? Of course not, unless he is not a true father.
Our Father in Heaven is a true Father. If we, being altogether wicked and undone in our sins, would not command our child to perform an action impossible to him or her, how much more would our heavenly Father not do such a cruel thing.
This lie comes from Satan, doesn’t it? From the beginning he has attempted to separate us from our Father.
There is a teaching that God knows we cannot do His will so He has given us “grace.” This means we are unable to please God, so He forgives us and receives us in our disobedience.
This may seem like the way a loving God would bring us to Himself. But if you think this through, this is saying that what God wants of us is impossible of attainment.
Now think: if you are a parent are you going to tell your child to perform an impossible task, and then tell him or her I don’t really expect you to do this, I just wanted you to understand you can never please me and I must keep forgiving you for this. Can you see how ridiculous this is?
The Apostle John stated that God’s commandments are not grievous. And indeed they are not grievous!
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, (I John 5:3)
There is no such thing as love for God apart from obeying His commandments in the Bible, and given to us personally. Love for God is to obey His commands!
The original sin was disobedience. Satan chose to exert his own will in defiance of the will of God. From this one act has proceeded all the spiritual darkness found in the angelic and adamic races.
Satan’s counsel to Adam and Eve was not that they lie, or murder, or refuse to forgive, or practice witchcraft. It was that they disobey what had been commanded.
When God decided to create a church, a group of people who would be near to Himself and who would govern and bless mankind, God chose a man. He challenged the man to believe the impossible, and then commanded him to walk blamelessly before God.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty walk before me and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1)
But the real test had to do with Isaac. What a test this was. Consider: Abraham did not know of Calvary; of the Holy Spirit; of the born-again experience. But Abraham did understand that His Creator was to be obeyed implicitly.
When compared with Abraham’s act of obedience, how pitiful, how threadbare, how lacking in a true perception of God, is our current weak, people-pleasing Gospel! And then we say that God loves us so much He is willing to overlook our sins and disobedience and bring us to Heaven to live forever in bliss. What utter foolishness!
As majestic an act of obedience as was that of Abraham and his son, it does not begin to measure up to the towering obedience of the Son of God in the Garden of Gethsemane.
What was at stake in the obedience of Abraham? The loss of his son, his lineage, the exceeding grief of him and Sarah. After all, God did not speak to Sarah. She had the full weight of the grief but not the consolation of the Lord having spoken to her.
The stake in the obedience of Christ was vastly more than this. He who came from the ivory palaces was to be exposed to all of the filth which Satan and his demons are able to produce. More than this, Christ had only the Father’s Word that He would not be condemned to remain in the underworld for eternity, bearing on His spirit the guilt of the sins of the world.
We overcome Satan by our trust in the blood of the Lamb.
We overcome Satan by continually testifying the truth concerning God’s Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Jesus Christ.
Finally we overcome Satan by loving not our life to the point of death. This means we cry “not my will but Yours be done” in every circumstance, although at times it may seem to tear at our very soul.
We simply cannot please God other than by obeying Him promptly and diligently in every detail.
When God challenges us to believe what He has done for us, then we are righteous if we obey God in this arena.
When God commands us to walk blamelessly before us, then we are righteous if we pray and seek God until we are keeping His commands given to us in His Word and to us personally.
When God places us in a prison where are most fervent desires are denied, and we are compelled to continue each day in circumstances not to our liking, and we remain where we are placed without breaking out, then we are counted as righteous in His sight.
If I am not mistaken, the burden of the Spirit in our day is that of choosing to take our place with Christ on the cross and to do His will faithfully. It is death to our self-will, self-love, self-centeredness, personal ambition, to our right to live our life as we see fit.
It is possible to have our sins forgiven through faith in the atonement, to receive the Spirit of God, and then to not receive Christ as our personal Lord. In fact, the teaching of today in many instances emphasizes how we can use Christ and the Holy Spirit to improve our life in the present hour. The idea that Christ is our Lord and we are His servant is not always clear to us.
Christians simply do not understand that God is not going to save what we are but to change what we are. The change requires that we assign our first personality to the cross with the Lord Jesus, following the Holy Spirit carefully until the old has passed away and all has become new.
We often have said, along with John the Baptist: “He must increase and I must decrease.” We have said this, and now God is making such an exchange a reality in us.
To press forward into the further work of redemption that God has for us today we must tell the Lord that we will obey Him perfectly as He shows us what He wants from us and gives us the necessary wisdom and strength to respond correctly.
It is absolutely unthinkable that we should not obey God absolutely. Any individual who knows God’s will and is not doing it is taking his or her place with Satan. That person is rebelling against God and shall surely pay the penalty.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, But only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17)
Any person who chooses to do the will of the Father will make things possible to God that otherwise would not have been possible. When he passes into the Presence of the Lord he shall have left the world a better place than when he entered.
Is that your desire? It is mine. Let’s together choose to serve our Father diligently, knowing that He will never ask anything of us but that He will furnish all that is needed to make our obedience possible and joyful.
(“Love, Faith, and Obedience”, 3690-1)