"A victorious Christian life is an obedient life." I heard that statement in a sermon from Dr. Charles Stanley years ago – decades ago in fact – and it’s sat, a little unsettled, in my mind ever since. It seemed so powerful because I was feeling particularly defeated at the time. I was so intrigued to know the secret, the key, to feeling victorious rather than defeated. It came to mind again as pondered this affirmation from 1 John: Victorious. "Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One." 1 John 2:13 (MSG)
Why “unsettled” you may ask? I don't know about you, but the answer is shamefully simple: Obedience wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I don't always want to obey. I want to take the easier path, the faster way. I don't want to make that hard choice or risk being rejected or make myself vulnerable to hurt. Sometimes being obedient means doing that thing that seems impossibly hard or is the very opposite of what we want to do, or feel like doing, at the time.
Then there’s the word “obedience.” That, itself, doesn’t always sit just right, does it? We like to make the rules, not follow someone else’s. We like to be independent and free and strong and capable and respected and successful. And, to do that, worldly wisdom tells us that you have to forge your own path; make your own rules. So, we resist. And, where does all of that lead? To a place of disappointment, overwhelm, defeat, rejection, disillusionment…the very place we thought we were working so hard to avoid.
"We'll quell the resounding voice and conviction of God's Spirit within us the more we ignore or disregard it. He will not long waste His words on those who aren't postured to obey."
This week, I was reading a devotional by Priscilla Shirer about the voice of God. She says, "We'll quell the resounding voice and conviction of God's Spirit within us the more we ignore or disregard it. He will not long waste His words on those who aren't postured to obey." Read her last sentence again in case you missed it. She’s not mincing words! Two words popped out to me, “waste” and “postured.”
Wasting words. That’s something every parent can relate to, isn’t it? You tell them, and you tell them, and you tell them again, and as some point you wise up enough to just quit talking. They'll have to figure it out on their on. They'll have to suffer the consequences. You’re wasting your words. It’s exasperating. I don’t want God to be exasperated with me because I refuse, repeatedly refuse, to listen, to obey.
Posture. Obedience is a mental and spiritual posture of submission. That word and all its connotations goes against every ounce of our flesh. That’s why it’s so hard; it’s fighting our natural self – it requires faith. Submission to authority is a discipline of faith that requires a lifetime of practice.
Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way that I can try life my way first and inevitably end up in a huge mess EVERY. SINGLE. TIME., or I can seek God’s direction and guidance first and obey. That doesn’t guarantee an ending of fame and glory, but it brings peace. It brings his blessing. It leads to spiritual victory and sometimes physical victory too. In the very least, it prevents a lot of heartache along the journey.