by Mike Ratliff
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God? Psalms 42:1-2 (NASB)
Spiritually healthy Christians have a deep desire to know God’s will thereby knowing where God wants them to be as well as doing what God wants them to do. Without a doubt, discovering God’s will commands more interest and arouses more anxiety among those spiritually healthy Christians than anything else. That desire is a sign of spiritual health. Why do they deeply desire this? They want to please God. At their regeneration, God gave them a love of obedience that is bolstered as they find joy in doing His will. Along with that, the very thought of offending God grieves them deeply. They deeply desire to live in a way that shows gratitude to God for His grace. He has given them this as their purpose in life. With each victory of obedience as they mortify their sin by His grace, this desire becomes stronger and stronger. Therefore, believers deeply desire to know God’s will so they may do it.
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17 (NASB)
While our Lord tells us that we will keep His commandments if we love Him, He doesn’t force us to do so. However, He does emphatically tell us what we should and ought to do. We obey Him if we are spiritually healthy because we will have oneness of spirit with Him. However, all of us can confess to periods of being in the desert or in the wilderness or fighting to get out of the valley of humiliation where we sought our own above all instead of our obedience to His will. However, there comes a point of contention or decision in each of our spiritual lives where we either give Him our all or we remain defiantly self-focused. When we enter that sweet surrender to His will then we will find our blinders removed as we see the horrible crooked path we have been on and how it was nothing but rebellion and anarchy against our Lord’s Sovereignty. This will cause brokenness and a renewed desire to know God’s will so that we may do it. On the other hand, those who refuse to let go of their “rights” will never reach that level of spiritual health where they will have oneness of spirit with Him. Those who have that oneness of spirit, love their Lord above all. They keep His commandments because they love Him. Those who refuse to budge off of their rights prove that they love self above all.
We must obey our Lord Jesus Christ by the grace of God alone, not by will power. When we do, we fulfill our spiritual destiny. Our lives are not contiguous straight lines of points where we see God’s will clearly at each one so we can move forward in spiritual maturity to the next command. No, this life is filled with seemingly haphazard circumstances that seem to pull us in every direction except where we think God wants us to go. However, these circumstances are each points of decision to obey our Lord or not. In a way they are pinholes through which we see the face of God. When we obey our Lord this way we will discover that through it that more people are blessed than we could ever imagine and especially if we tried to obey God according to our own conception and effort. Also, this obedience is the product of the working of God’s sanctifying grace in our hearts. It creates a new maturity in us and it edifies those God blesses through us. God uses our obedience to our Lord Jesus like a conduit through which His redemptive power rushes through us to other lives. Our acts of obedience come from our love for our Saviour and come out of our oneness of spirit with Him that, in effect, is the reality of Almighty God working in us. If we walk this walk by faith then we are those spiritually healthy Christians seeking to know God’s will so we can do it.
The act of obedience in the face of our common sense and our fleshly understanding of things comes because we die to self in our surrender to the supremacy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 (NASB)
Our independence has to be broken in our surrender. No one can do it for us. It is our act alone. Those seemingly haphazard circumstances that demand our obedience are God taking us to these points of surrender. He will not force us through those points. In other words, we sought His will and He showed it to us and now we must either obey it or continue in independence. Paradoxically, the act of becoming one in spirit with our Lord is the epitome of emancipation. We surrender to His Lordship in our loyalty to Him, suppressing our own will and desires from our hearts to obey His will and find true freedom. We become bond slaves of Jesus and in return we become iron saints.
We began by loving our Lord and seeking His will that we may do it. Instead of baby steps each leading to the next easy step up in faith, God puts us into life. This life seems to come at us from every direction and in each point of decision we are given an opportunity to obey our Lord by faith. If we take the easy way out, we stymie our spiritual growth, but if we die to self, become crucified with Christ so that it is now Him living through us, we will find God working through us in ways we could never imagine.
Soli Deo Gloria!