Monday, October 20, 2008

Believing IS obeying.

"What about obedience?" A question I hear frequently from those who (at least) partially opposing the message of grace. They usually pick a list of sins or a list of commandments from either OT or NT, and pose the question: shouldn't we abstain from these sins? shouldn't we do these things God has commanded us?

All throughout the Bible, starting from the garden of Eden, the consequences people suffered due to sin or disobedience was a direct result of unbelief. In other words, in all cases, the punishment is always directed towards unbelief.

Hebrews chapter 3 makes this abundantly clear. Talking about the Israelites,

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. - Hebrews 3:15-19

It's clear that those who disobeyed were those who disbelieved.

God's anger was toward those who sinned (the verse says). What kind of sin is He talking about? Is it the making of idols? Is it the rebellion against Moses? Is it the grudging toward God? Is it their demand that they want to go back to Egypt?

Why was He angry for forty years?

'Because of their unbelief'. They failed to believe His promise. If there was any disobedience, it was a direct result of their unbelief in God's promise. And God's judgment is always toward unbelief, because unbelief is the root of any sin.

When I stop believing God to supply all my needs, I might be tempted to steal. I might even steal.

For any disease, it's highly critical that we diagnose and treat the root cause. Treating the symptoms is not enough. So in case of stealing, should we treat the disease of stealing? Or should we treat the disease of unbelief?

All throughout the years, decades and centuries, the church is trying to treat the symptoms, not the disease. So they have all these temporary pain relievers and fever reducers in the form of self discipline, accountability, principles, values, traditions etc. They know it is temporary, but they still keep on prescribing the same thing again and again. None of these 'Tylenols' and 'Mortins' can never ever go deeper beneath the skin to the heart and fix the heart of unbelief.

Believing is a choice and when we are believing, we are indeed obeying.

Depression, worry and fear are some natural consequences resulting from an unbelieving heart. We can either believe God, in a moment by moment basis, which is nothing but walking by the Spirit or we can choose to walk by the flesh.

Major Ian Thomas, in his book titled, 'The indwelling life of Christ', says about this,

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25), and this is what it means to walk in the Holy Spirit: to take one step at a time, and for every new situation into which every new step takes you, no matter what it may be, to hear Christ saying to your heart, "I AM", then to look up into His face by faith and say, "You are! That is all I need to know, Lord, and thank You, for You are never less than adequate."

33 comments:

Matthew Daelon said...

Amen, Amen, Amen!!! The obedience of faith!

Great post, Bino.

In all situations we are to learn to entrust ourselves to God. In all situations we are to learn to rest.

Leonard said...

I believe you.
Thanks.

Smita said...

Great Post!. Praise God!.

Amy said...

Bino,
Great post!!
These sentences sum it up nicely... "Because of their unbelief'. They failed to believe His promise. If there was any disobedience, it was a direct result of their unbelief in God's promise. And God's judgment is always toward unbelief, because unbelief is the root of any sin."

This to hit the nail-on-the-head. I couldn't agree more. Sigh...
"All throughout the years, decades and centuries, the church is trying to treat the symptoms, not the disease. So they have all these temporary pain relievers and fever reducers in the form of self discipline, accountability, principles, values, traditions etc. They know it is temporary, but they still keep on prescribing the same thing again and again. None of these 'Tylenols' and 'Mortins' can never ever go deeper beneath the skin to the heart and fix the heart of unbelief."

"Believing is a choice and when we are believing, we are indeed obeying...Depression, worry and fear are some natural consequences resulting from an unbelieving heart."

Yep. I fully agree. Bino, again, all very well stated in this post.

Blessings,
~Amy :)
http://amyiswalkinginthespirit.blogspot.com

RJW said...

Bino,
You are listening to Christ's heart and the Holy Spirit's voice, I know, because Lydia, Matt, and I have just been having this discussion TODAY!!!

Thank you for yielding to the Christ in you; I feel as if your words were just for me.

God is so good and faithful to speak into my heavy heart through you! :)

Gary Kirkham said...

Hey Bino, Great Post!

It brought to mind John 6:29, which underscores what you have written:

Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

lydia joy said...

I love this reminder, so simple!! The only sin Jesus couldn't die for was our unbelief!! We get to rest in His finished work, and believe it was enough!! Woohoo!!

Thanks Brother!! Peace to you!

Bino M. said...

Matthew - Amen!

Leonard - Thank you! I am glad. :)

Smita - Hey, what's up?

Amy - Thank you!

Jamie - Thank you!

Gary - Hey brother, I have missed you! Good to see you here. You added great value to this post by quoting that verse. Thank you!

Lydia - Yes, it's simple! But for many this is not easy. After all, simple things are not always easy. We tend to make it complicated! Thank you for stopping by!

Ike said...

Lydia Joy,

If Jesus didn't die for the sin of unbelief then we are all going to hell......seeing that we all were unbelievers at one time or the other and committed the sin of unbelief....

Christ died for all of the sins of His elect, including their previous sin of unbelief. Belief in the Gospel does not make up for our previous sin of unbelief. Belief (faith) is the witness that God has already wrought grace in our hearts, the inevitable response to His work of regeneration in our souls. (John 3:21) Christ clearly came to lay down His life for His sheep (John 10:11) and some people are not his sheep: "...but you do not believe because you are not my sheep." (John 10:26) Jesus prayed for His own but he would not pray for those the Father had NOT given him: "I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours." Emphasis mine (John 17:9).

Bino M. said...

Ike,

I am not speaking for Lydia, I would let her answer your question (if she would like to). But in the mean time, let me ask you something which just came into my mind,

Jesus said, when Holy Spirit comes He will convict the world about the sin of unbelief. If Jesus took the sin of unbelief away at the cross, why would His Spirit convict us about that sin?

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; - John 16:8

Joel B. said...

Bino,

Indeed, great stuff! A scripture that comes to mind in addition to what you and others have shared is Jesus words, "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). This wasn't about repenting of bad deeds and starting to do good deeds. This was about changing the mind from unbelief to believing the good news!

Ike,

Just a few verses later in John 17, after Jesus had prayed for His disciples alone, He also then went on to pray for others:

John 17:20
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word..." (It appears to me that the first part of His prayer was for His disciples, but then He went on to pray for others).

Also, about John 10:

Jesus does indeed talk about Himself being the shepherd of His sheep. (By the way, I think Jesus is talking about Israel here...?). He then goes on to say, "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd."

Bottom line is that there will be lots of believers and hence lots of sheep! And One Shepherd!

lydia joy said...

Bino ~ It's true, the Gospel is simple, but that does not mean it is always easy for us to embrace it in all it's simplicity! I wouldn't want to make it sound like I never struggle with fully resting in the finished work! But, I do marvel at it on a regular basis, I marvel at the simplicity and I can't help but repeat it over and over, not as to sound as if I live that way fully,but to proclaim it's awesomeness with joy!!

Ike ~ I think I hear where you are coming from! And I thank the guys for responding to your reply, I think they said much of what I would have said. I am not sure that if we ever were unbelieving and then became believing that that our former unbelieving would count against us - we get the chance to repent and believe! However, if we get to our death bed and have not believed in the finished work, we indeed will be seperated from God for all of eternity! Does this make sense??
Peace to you!

Ike said...

Lydia Joy,
I think we agree as long as you understand that we all are called to repent and believe. Before we did that.....we sinned in unbelief. The good news is that Christ died for "ALL" our sins.
Bino....the Holy Spirit draws us to Christ. The way you phrase your question it sounds like you are saying that Christ died for 99% of our sin and left out the sin of unbelief? Again, "ALL" sins had to be dealt with, even the sin of unbelief. We don't do a "work" of faith to cement the deal......our faith is grace.

Joel, I won't argue election with you but will point out that when your name was written in the Lambs Book of Life........you were not there to cast a vote? I also want to point out that Christ died for all the sins of His people, BUT He did not die for all people. That would be universal salvation.

lydia joy said...

Okay, I have to say, I know that Jesus died for all sin for all time. However, I also believe Jesus couldn't take away our unbelief in His finished work at the cross, not that He couldn't do it because He was powerless to or anything, but let me say that before the cross the world was under the old covenant, the new covenant had not yet been established, under the old covenant sin was anything we did or didn't do that did not uphold the law perfectly - if we then died with Christ and were raised with Him unto life, we died to the law, no more law to live by, now we are under grace, a new covenant and the only requirement is to believe, that's it, and now that there is a new covenant established we can believe or not believe, it's a choice one that the Holy Spirit will lead us into the truth of, initially it will be a conviction of the sin of our unbelief in Jesus............so I guess what I am trying to say is, I don't want to say Jesus died for all sins except our unbelief because Ike yes that does sound confusing, but at the same time, the only sin left to deal with after the cross is unbelief. God is not looking at all our sins, nor counting them against us, we are all forgiven, however, if we do not believe, we are in fact in unbelief in Jesus and that is going to count against you!!
I do hope I am not overcomplicating this........I would like to know however, what others think........I am not sure I would not agree on the comment about God did not die for all people,- He reconciled the world to Himself!! If God did not die for all people that throws a huge monkey wrench into my belief of a loving God who loves everyone! Does he love only some? And not others? Why not universal salvation? Is not everyone forgiven, yet they may not have come to understand this truth? Everyone can be saved and live in relationship now with God, anyone can, anyone in the whole wide world. Jesus died for everyone! There are many people walking the earth today that simply do not know this truth and therefore they cannot live in the finished work and benefit from it.......!!

Joel B. said...

Hi Ike,

From scripture I believe that Christ died for all, but that not all have repented, and therefore believed and called upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:11-17).

Ike said...

Joel,
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are my brother in Christ! I know exactly what you are saying with this statement that Christ died for all because that is how I believed for most of my life. However, think about what you are saying. God the Father placed all the sin of all the people on His Son. He then poured out His wrath for that sin on His Son. I'm asumming you know that the nails, crown of thorns, and the spear in His side is not what saves us? Now I ask you......how can a just God pour out His wrath for the second time on all those people in hell? And by the way Lydia Joy......all those people in hell will be punished for ALL their sins because their sins were not upon the Christ.

Lydia Joy,
I'm sure you are saved but there are so many things in your statements that come up short. Lets go back to Adam and Eve or anybody in the Old Testament. How did they get saved? Just like you and me. They placed their faith in Christ looking forward. We place our faith in Christ looking backwards. There is no difference... it is always faith in Christ. All those bloody sacrifices had absolutely no redemption in them. They all pointed to the final sacrifice in Christ.
And finally Lydia.....when you talk about no more law to live by....what do you mean? When Jesus gave the sermon on the Mount He elevated the old law. He said that if you hate your brother in your heart.....you have committed murder. You are absolutely correct that when it comes to the law and salvation......we need grace! But when we come to Christ by His grace through faith.........we will obey His commandments. Will we still sin? Yes, but one of the greatest evidences of genuine faith is walking in obedience to Him. That brings us back to Bino's post. When we choose to do something that we know is sinful......what we are saying is that-that "thing" is more satisfying than the Lord. It is like Bino has stated in his post....unbelief!

jul said...

I believe in Scripture regardless of whether it fits into my system of worldy wisdom. Therefore, since the Bible clearly teaches us that God so loved the world that he gave his only son, and also that the Spirit is sent to convict only of unbelief in Jesus, I now believe (though I once believed as Ike did because of the teachings and traditions of men which seemed 'logical' to me) that God has made provision for any and all men equally though obviously many will reject Jesus and choose to rely on their own self-righteous efforts in order to make or maintain right standing with the one true and perfect holy God.

I can see from what you've mentioned about the law, and also your patronizing 'tone' with Lydia that you believe that Christians are still under Law, at least the ten commandments I'm assuming. That is wrong and the 'another gospel' Paul talked about in Galatians. It is destructive teaching that actually increases bondage to sin in the church, a bondage I am all to familiar with. Jesus taught Law, he was still under the old covenant and came to fulfill the Law completely in order to become the end of the Law for all who believe and cancel every single curse that stood against us. In fact, in 2 Cor. the ten commandments are actually called a ministry of death! If we remain in relationship with the Law, we commit spiritual adultery. If you study the true context of the warning and/or discipline passages found in the new testament, you will find they are connected with going back to Law or mixing the old with the new.
That is the essence of unbelief, anything that does not proceed from faith is sin (as written in Romans) and anything that proceeds from works of the law or flesh will produce dead and useless works, causing our master to declare that he never knew us if we do not turn away from trusting in our 'obedience' to any part of the Law ( either for justification OR sanctification).

Legalism is not a problem with trying to obey man made rules or guidelines not found in Scripture, but a problem with living under any law , including Biblical law. We are governed by the Holy Spirit, not by rules and regulations. We follow a person, not a rulebook. Many have chosen the rulebook over the person, trusting in their ability to obey the rules over Jesus' loving power to keep us safe and change us as he will.

Sorry for preaching, but Lydia is my friend, a warrior of grace and the gospel, not perfect in behaviour or doctrine perhaps (as none of us are yet), but absolutely blameless in the eyes of the Father, pure and perfect in Jesus forever!

Sorry Bino for such a long comment! great post!

jul said...

Just realized I wasn't very clear in my comment most of it was directed to Ike...

Joel B. said...

Hi Ike,

As for your first sentence in your last comment directed towards me, the good news is that I don't need you to affirm that in me but thanks for sharing it anyway. :)

Other than that, I clearly disagree with you on several issues, and I don't have the time nor desire to go over them with you here. Along with what Jul said, it's via the scriptures rather than my own line of reasoning that I see that all were born in Adam, and Christ died for all. I suppose we could spend time looking at the scriptures about all of this, but I see that you have your mind made up and it would mostly be a lesson in futility, so I'll leave it at that. :)

Yes, we are bros. in Christ.

Grace and peace to you.

Bino M. said...

Jul - Your comments were a great addition to the post and the discussion. Everything you said was in line with my understanding of the Scriptures as well. Thank you for stopping by and contributing to the conversation!

Joel - The doctrine of election is one of the most ridiculous doctrines I have heard in my entire Christian life. What amazes me is how much they had to twist scriptures (where it plainly says Christ died for the WORLD) to come up with this doctrine. As I understand predestination and election from the book of Ephesians, it's nothing but God predestining to bring Jews and gentiles together through the message of Gospel. And he did it!

Ike - I too think that you come with predetermined mindset and a set of ideologies, so I am not going to spell out everything I believe (though I have done it through various posts I have posted) because you sounds like you have already made up your mind. I am not against doctrine, in fact I think it's important to establish our belief on some constants. But hey, if your doctrine is working for you, that's great!

The funny thing is that everything you are bringing up here, I too believed or atleast considered in one way or other at some point of my life. I have wrestled with all these ideas/ism's/logics/beliefs.
But I tell you, there is nothing great in Christian walk other than getting captured by the unconditional love and grace of God. Thanks for your thoughts! You are welcome to share your thoughts but I may not be able to respond to every argument.

Freedom in Christ,
Bino.

Ike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lydia joy said...

Oh Ike ~ differences or no differences you are loved!!
My heart goes out to you and your wife, and my prayers will most definitely be with you!! He holds you both in the palm of His hands!!! Much grace and peace to you!!! Please let us know how all goes!!

Joel B. said...

Ike,

Now that you've mentioned Darin's blog, I now recall where I've seen your name, other than here on Bino's blog. I haven't checked out Darin's blog in a few weeks. I don't know Darin's reasons for not allowing you to comment over there, but I wonder if it's not so much that you share disagreements, but how you go about it? (Again, I don't know his reasons. I just know that when a person is simply writing on someone else's blog for the purpose of always correcting that person, or other people, I can understand why that person wouldn't be welcome. On my own blog I decided at one time to set boundaries of sorts. People are welcome to comment, but if they're simply there to disagree or debate all the time, or if they act condescending towards others, I don't want them there. They can have their own blog if they wish, with all the freedom they desire to share their own views. I'm not saying people can't discuss disagreements, but when that's all it is, it's futile).

All that aside, my prayers are definitely for you and your wife, in this time of ill health for her. Theology and disagreements are superseded by people who care with the love of Christ. Grace and peace to your wife, and to you as you hope and pray for her and with her for the best possible health and healing.

Bino M. said...

Absolutely Ike! All the differences and disagreements aside, I will certainly pray for your wife. In fact, I just did. I will continue to keep you both in prayers. It's one of the limitations of this 2-dimensional media that we can't see face to face but at the same time the advantage is that I can pray for someone probably miles away knowing that he/she is going through a tough time in life.

May the peace which surpasses all the human understanding be upon you and your family!

jul said...

Ike, I'll be praying for you and your wife as well. Sounds like a very difficult time and I know God wants to overwhelm you both with a tangible sense of his love and nearness. Only in God's family can there be serious disagreement that is completely eclipsed by serious love! Blessing and grace on you and yours.

Leonard said...

Guy's I've been following this string though my mail box...
I cant tell ya how encouraging this conversation has been to me.
Thanks
Ike, your house, is in my prayers also.
Grace because we need Him.
Best
Leonard

Aida said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aida said...

Hey, Bino. I've been out of the loop for a while but I love how your blog looks. You probably changed it a long time ago but I'm slow to notice things at times.

Aida said...

Ike, I see you've removed your comment. I appreciate it. I'll meet you halfway and I'll remove my response. Thank you.

Bino M. said...

Aida - I made the changes just yesterday. I am glad you liked it! :)

ViolableWings said...

Bino,
I know its 4 days late from when all of this was posted up, but just wanted to say that I really liked the post. I have had a lot of problems with "obedience" always being taught that it was meant to mean that we had to follow the law (somehow without actually calling it the law) and even then to the point of death and suffering and if we hold on to the truth of obedience (defined by the 10 commandments) then we would be saved. Your post has been a part of a healing process in me, Thank you for sharing it.
Ron

Bino M. said...

Ron - Thank you! I am glad it helped. About the 10 commandments, Bible calls it the 'ministry of death' - 2 Cor 3:7-11
It was hard to believe when I first read it. :)

Leonard said...

"encouraging"

Told you.