My Bible reading group has been reading through 1 John this week. There have been several times this week where I have felt as if I was seeing these words for the first time. It has been refreshing and convicting.
When we are able to see God’s words as if for the first time, there is a freshness to them, and a refreshing by them, that we can experience. I was really made away of the way that John calls us to a deep and consistent obedience of God’s commands. God has said so much, more than we can every really accomplish. But, we are called to obey each and every one of these commands. Not just the ones that are easy, but especially the ones that are hard.
This is where the conviction comes in. I was convicted by the fact of how easy it is for me rely on my own strength, my own abilities and wisdom, to accomplish what can only be done by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. The call of God to obey his commands is not made to the fallen sinner. It is made to the redeemed and Spirit-filled saint.
Are all people under the burden of the commands of God? Are all people, whether saved or lost, responsible conform their lives to the reality of a living God? Yes, on both counts. The issue is that the weight of this reality will feel differently. Or at least it should. This is what I was convicted of this week. I had lost sight of the lightness of God’s commands because I had not really been relying on God’s enabling power like I should have.
Let’s stop a moment and look and what John said:
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3 ESV)
His commands are NOT burdensome. I really had to stop and take that one in this week.
If you are feeling the weight of God’s commands in your life, it may be time to stop and do a check on your obedience. When we are living out the reality of the Gospel in our lives by trusting in the enabling power of God’s Spirit, we are living on our own power. Every single time we do this we are doomed to reach the end of our own strength faster than we want to believe. We are not able to obey God on our own. And the truth of it is we are not supposed to do.
The primary reason the commands of God are not burdensome is because the one who bore our burdens has told us that our yoke is in reality his yoke, and that his yoke is easy. And his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). We need to stop pretending that we having this life all figured out. We need to stop trying to squeeze joy out of every cell of our bodies.
Joy is not something that we can manufacture in our own abilities. Joy is the byproduct of our souls rejoicing in the wonder, beauty, and power of the Gospel. That is where joy is found. And the way we tap into that fountain of joy is by trusting in God to give us the power and the will and the strength to do his will. That is the attitude of a child of God.
Look at what the apostle Paul said to the Philippians about their obedience.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV, emphasis added)
If we have to muster up the strength to keep our obeying the commands of God, we are seeking for help from the wrong place. Of that there can be no doubt.