1997-10-06 - Obedience
The Demands of Following Christ Series, Part 1
Matt. 10:38: And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
It is possible to take this verse literally. When I was in college there was a guy who used to drag a 10-12 foot wooden cross behind him, resting on his shoulder, everywhere he went. It was quite a spectacle. I don't really think that such actions are in view when we are told to take up our cross and follow Christ. Rather, I think, the mindset this verse should lead us to adopt is one of obedience to Christ in all things, just as he was obedient in all things, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb. 12:2
Obedience is a tough thing. Thomas Goodwin makes a great point in a very plain and simple way when he says, "Judas heard all Christ's sermons." So it is not good teaching that grants us the ability to obey. Rather, before we can even think about obedience, before we ever will think about it, grace must first get a hold of us. Until the grace of Christ takes root in our hearts, it is vain for us to think we can obey God. The call to abstain from every form of evil," in 1 Thess. 5:22, is not a suggestion. Or again, in 1 Thess. 4:7, "For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification."
In Christian obedience there is more than simple obedience. We are to think both of the quid, and the quomodo of how we obey. That is, what (quid) we do, and the manner (quomondo) in which we do it. We are to consider with what sort of heart we obey. "The Lord weighs the spirits." Prov. 16:2. Following Christ obediently involves more than doing God's will, it also looks at the manner that we do God's will.
"As the saint is described sometimes by a "clean heart," so also sometimes by "clean hands," because he has both; the holiness of his heart is seen at his fingers' ends." George Swinnock