“When we realize God has the best for us, we obey Him.”
My husband made this comment one morning when we were discussing God’s Word.
The dictionary definition of obedience is “compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority.” (search.yahoo.com)
Author Mark Batterson wrote that the Latin word for “obey” is obedire, which means “to give ear.”1 “Obedience starts with an ear that is consecrated to Christ. It’s tuning in to His frequency and turning up the volume. It’s obeying His whispers, even if culture is screaming the exact opposite,” he writes. Then he asks…
“Is the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit the loudest voice in your life?”2
The loudest voice. Last week I wrote about the domineering nature of our flesh, promising to discuss in this week’s blog how victory over the flesh is possible.
I have found that ungodly actions are first formed in my mind. I recognize them because they are self-centered. They are all about ME… my comfort, my satisfaction, my convenience, my happiness. But it is the Holy Spirit who reveals the motivation behind my decisions. When they are influenced by the flesh, He gives me Scriptural direction.
Paul tells us: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) Later in this chapter he tells us to “keep in step with the Spirit.” (5:25)
Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, I see the incongruity between my behavior and the Word of God… I am out of step. It is through repentance, turning from the flesh to the ways of God, that my walk is restored. As I implement the Biblical verses the Spirit brings to mind, I am back in step with Him. It is in obedience that I keep step.
But this victory does not come in our own strength or by our own will, writes Warren W. Wiersbe in his commentary on the book of Galatians, “Be Free, Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality.” Victory comes by surrendering our will to the Holy Spirit, states Wiersbe.
The direction is in Galatians 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” He explains the verse literally reads willingly led.3
When we love God, we desire to obey Him. (John 14:15)
Wiersbe explains—“The Holy Spirit writes God’s law on our hearts (Heb. 10:14-17; see 2 Cor. 3) so that we desire to obey Him in love.”
“I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8
In his Bible commentary, author Tony Evans writes: “To ‘walk by the Spirit’ is to discover God’s view on a matter, decide to act on that divine perspective, and depend on the Holy Spirit to empower your obedience.”4
Let’s look at these steps.
*Discover God’s View
I mentioned earlier that the Holy Spirit brings Scripture to mind when my behavior is out of step with the ways of God. He can’t remind me of something that isn’t there. My part is to study the Bible. Truthfully, I love to do this. I find God’s ways remarkable and worth the time and effort it takes to gain understanding.
Most often God’s instructions are not something that come naturally to me. Sometimes I think they do, telling myself “I do that,” or “I can do that.” Then a situation comes up that requires the implementation of this Scripture and I know I have not mastered it. It is not yet written on my heart.
*Decide to Act on God’s Perspective
Instead of trying to master a Scripture in our own strength, we turn to the Holy Spirit and ask Him for direction on how to implement it. But we must do so with a willing heart.
I posted a blog on this topic January 17 and in it I quoted Hannah Whitall Smith, author of “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. She described a willing heart perfectly, in my opinion.
God’s commands become desires springing up within us. “They will originate in our will; we shall feel as though we desired to do so and so not as though we must,” she writes.
As we surrender to the Holy Spirit, God’s commands no longer seem like something we have to do but something we get to do.
*Depend on the Holy Spirit
When we depend on ourselves, we use our willpower to resist the flesh and walk in God’s ways.
Willpower is “the ability to control one’s own actions, emotions, or urges. Also, strong determination that allows one to do something difficult.” (merriam-webster.com) Sometimes this works, but it takes great effort and often it fails. And it is not transformative. Our behavior looks changed, if our determination remains strong.
However striving is exhausting and we always seem to fall short of the mark. Victory comes by divine power not by willpower.
In last week’s blog titled “Sizing Up the Enemy,” I wrote the enemy is us. Realizing that fleshly desire and a desire to walk in the Spirit are at odds with each other, whenever we are in the flesh we can wave a white flag signaling surrender to the Holy Spirit.
©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved
1-This isn’t the first time surrender has popped up in the 2023 blogs that focus on spiritual transformation. If you can offer an example of surrender in your life, please write about it in the comment section. Sharing stories helps us grow.
2-To do the will of God we must know the will of God. Please, share some of your Bible study habits that have helped you grow! By sharing we may come across something that is extraordinarily helpful.
1-“No Room for God in a Heart of Stone” January 31 blog post on “A Place to Meet.” Covers topic of “ears to hear.”
2-“Double Blessing, Don’t Settle for Less Than You’re Called to Bless” by Mark Batterson. Published by Multnomah, a division of Penguin Random House.
3-“Be Free, Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality” by Warren W. Wiersbe. Published by Victor, Cook Communications Ministries Colorado Springs, CO.
4- The Tony Evans Bible Commentary Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN.
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